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Bonnie L. Firestein, Ph.D.
Professor of Cell Biology and Neuroscience and Principal Investigator

Dr. Firestein earned her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of California, San Diego under the guidance of Paul A. Insel, M.D. She performed her postdoctoral work at the University of California, San Francisco with David S. Bredt, M.D., Ph.D. and established her independent laboratory at Rutgers University in 2000. She was primary advisor to 7 Masters students, 18 Ph.D. students, 14 Postdoctoral Associates, and over 60 undergraduate students. All of her trainees have successful careers in academia, industry, and the medical profession. Her research interests are neurodevelopment, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, schizophrenia. She is an avid Crossfitter and beagle lover. To learn more about her research, you can view her publications here.

 

Ph.D. Students

 

Vaidehi Apte

Vaidehi is a PhD student in the Biomedical Engineering Graduate Program. She earned her B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering from Purdue University. As an undergraduate student, she worked in the Won Research Group where she studied polymer gene delivery. She also worked as part of the Low Research Group to target parathyroid hormone for accelerated bone fracture repair. Vaidehi’s interests are focused on mechanisms underlying traumatic brain injury. Specifically, she is developing biomaterials to deliver uric acid to the injured brain in a sustained manner.

Marina Cararo

Marina is a Ph.D. student in the Molecular Biosciences (Cell and Developmental Biology track) Graduate Program. She earned her B.S. in Biological Sciences, B.Ed. in Science Teaching, and M.Sc. in Pharmacology from the University of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil. She is the recipient of a Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES) Predoctoral Fellowship. Her thesis project focuses on the role of αKlotho in neuronal survival and circuit recovery following traumatic brain injury.

 

Christen Crosta

Christen is a Ph.D. student in the Neurosciences Graduate Program. She earned her B.S. in Neural Science with minors in American Sign Language and Psychology from New York University. After graduating, she worked as a Research Technician in the Carew Lab and as a Laboratory Manager in the Suzuki Lab at NYU. Prior to entering the Ph.D. program, Christen worked as a Chemical Laboratory Technician at BASF Corporation. She was awarded a position on the Rutgers NIH Biotechnology Training grant. Her thesis project focuses on biomarkers and sex-specific effects of antipsychotics in patients with schizophrenia.

 

Srinivasa Gandu

Srinivasa is a Ph.D. student in the Molecular Biosciences (Cell and Developmental Biology track) Graduate Program. He earned a B.S. in Pharmaceutical Sciences from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, India and an M.S. in Pharmacology/ Toxicology from Long Island University. Prior to enrolling in the Ph.D. program, Srinivasa was a Research Technician in the Chiosis laboratory at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Srinivasa is a recipient of a Molecular Biosciences Excellence Award and Excellence Fellowship and subsequently was awarded a New Jersey Commission on Brain Injury Research Predoctoral Fellowship. His thesis project focuses on understanding the proteasome-mediated degradation pathway in neurons and how this pathway is influenced by cypin (cytosolic PSD-95 interactor).

 

Keith Lange

Keith is a Ph.D. student in the Molecular Biosciences (Biochemistry track) Graduate Program. He earned a B.S. in Biochemistry from Montclair State University. After graduation, he worked with Dr. Carlos Molina at Montclair State as a technician and worked on crystallization of WbDHFR. He has experience studying Inducible cAMP Early Repressor proteasomal degradation, DNA binding, and reintegration into melanoma cells and in p53 deficient zebrafish. He is using both in silico modeling techniques and biochemistry to study the binding of activators and inhibitors of cypin. His work includes rational drug design.

 

 

Nisha Singh

Nisha is a Ph.D. student in the Molecular Biosciences (Cell and Developmental Biology track) Graduate Program. She earned a B.S. in Molecular Biology from Lehigh University. As an undergraduate student, she worked in the laboratories of Drs. Todd Strochlic (Drexel University College of Medicine) and Michael Layden (Lehigh University). Nisha was awarded a position on the Rutgers NIH Biotechnology Training grant and subsequently was awarded a New Jersey Commission on Spinal Cord Research Predoctoral Fellowship to perform her thesis work. Her work focuses on the identification of cypin modulators as treatment for spinal cord injury.

 

 

Dylan Sullivan

Dylan is a Ph.D. student in the Cell and Developmental Biology Program. He earned a B.A. in Psychology from Rutgers University. As an undergraduate student, he worked with Gary Aston-Jones and Kasia Bieszczad to write custom MATLAB scripts to analyze electrophysiological data to reveal long-term drug-dependent plasticity that may alter sensory experience at the brainstem level. Dylan is working to understand how injury and disease alter neural networks and how localized changes to signaling molecules as dendrites develop. He will use advanced imaging techniques, including FRET and FLIM.

 

Brandon Vaglio

Brandon is a PhD student in the Biomedical Engineering Graduate Program. He earned his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Biomedical Engineering at SUNY-Binghampton. As an undergraduate student in Dr. Koh’’s lab, Brandon focused on creating an electrochemical method to improve the performance of printed carbon electrodes. As an M.S. student, Brandon designed an on-body iontophoretic glucose biosensor. His work included using use AutoCAD to create his own biosensor design. Brandon is interested in neural engineering and will use MEA technology to understand how neural circuits are shaped and can be repaired after injury.

 

Research Associate

Atul Bhattiprolu

 

 

Undergraduate Students

 

Dima Bischoff-Hashem

 

Omar Elmogazy

 

Madeleine Fenner (Reed College student)

 

Allen Fu

 

Siddhant Kumarapuramganapath

 

Ratchell Sadovnik